CHAMPAIGN - The Champaign County YMCA and Carle Foundation Hospital plan to join forces in a far-reaching agreement built on the mission of improving community health.
The cornerstone of that agreement is Carle's decision to become the YMCA's medical partner in the development of the Y's planned $10 million new facility in southwest Champaign, officials have told The News-Gazette.
The agreement brings two longtime, locally based, nonprofit institutions together with a shared goal of community wellness.
?A lot of people in this community have yelled for years about collaboration, collaboration. Now here we are doing it, two major institutions in this town, doing it and for all the right reasons,? said David Hood, the immediate past president of the Y.
Cathy Emanuel, vice president of Carle, said Carle has been examining the possibilities for such a wellness center for nearly 10 years.
?Part of it was just finding the right partner,? she said. ?We've been very impressed with the Y's organization and dedication to this at every step.?
The YMCA is preparing to start feasibility studies to launch its capital campaign. It has hired American City Bureau of Hoffman Estates to advise in the effort.
YMCA Executive Director Wade Hampton said the Y hopes to build the new facility in 2006 on 12 acres being donated on an as-yet unannounced site in southwest Champaign. Plans show a 76,000-square-foot facility with a double gymnasium, a gymnastics center, a pool, four locker rooms, weight-training room and 10,000 square feet for the medical partner.
The new facility would enable the Y to close the Family and Fitness Center that it now leases on Country Fair Drive in Champaign. Once the new facility is built, the Y would turn its attention to rebuilding the old McKinley YMCA building on Church Street with an orientation toward youth programming.
YMCA Board President Mark Ballard said the combining of Carle's strengths with the YMCA's will allow each institution to reach beyond its core customer groups. For the Y, doubling or even tripling its membership in the long term through its current endeavors also allows it to expand its charitable outreach, and in turn allows Carle inroads to populations it hasn't traditionally served.
Emanuel said YMCA partnerships with medical partners have had proven success throughout the country. There are 60 communities where medical institutions have partnered with YMCAs in building projects, and many more where there have been collaborations in programming.
?In every case we've researched, the benefits realized have been beyond expectations,? she said.
Together, the YMCA and Carle hope to reach out to groups that have shied from each of the organizations' strengths in the past. That includes people recovering from illness, surgery and injuries to those uncomfortable with the conventional fitness center environment to others who are otherwise exercise-challenged, from youth to the elderly.
?It will allow us to be a partner in an accessible wellness center where everyone - poor and rich, old and young, obese and thin, convalescing and healthy - can find programs to enhance their health in a friendly, comfortable environment,? Emanuel said.
Carle provided statistics showing that in the Champaign area, there are more than 10,000 people diagnosed with diabetes. More than 32,000 adults are classified as obese, a factor in heart disease, which is the leading cause of adult deaths in Champaign County. Nearly 28 percent of all deaths in the county are attributable to heart disease.
Dr. Chad Carlson, head of Carle's Sports Medicine Department, said Carle's clinical expertise integrated with the existing YMCA programming can take community health initiatives to a higher level. He said he envisioned Carle providing trained staff to monitor exercise programs tailored to groups with specific health problems, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, arthritis, obesity, diabetes, and cardiac and pulmonary disease.
?Each participant would receive a health/fitness assessment that would serve as the baseline from which defined clinical outcomes would be tracked,? he said. ?Monitored exercise programs will serve as a natural arena for group exercise for cardiac and pulmonary rehabilitation graduates transitioning from more rigidly monitored, hospital-based environments.?
The partnership also will allow Carle to expand its sports medicine outreach, he added.
A team of representatives from each institution will be formed to coordinate programming and further examine the implications of the agreement.
Meanwhile, Hampton said the YMCA is committed to building a new YMCA, with or without Carle.
?Our relationship with Carle Foundation Hospital is one of many elements that make up the total YMCA project,? he said.
?Our goal of impacting the health of the community with the spiritual values that are core to the YMCA will continue regardless. Joining with Carle will certainly add an extraordinary dimension to our programming, and we are excited about the possibilities.
?You know people talk about the reasons for living here. We don't have lakes, rivers or mountains, but we have a quality of life,? Hampton said. ?This is an added amenity to that. As director of the Y and a citizen of this community, I want to build on that, and that's what we're doing with Carle.?
Emanuel said Carle's participation is conditioned on the YMCA raising the necessary funds for the project. Carle's participation will be as a tenant, not as a major contributor to the project.
But as a tenant, Carle's occupancy would cover about $4 million of the $10 million project.